1 A.M.

It is 1 a.m.
and you are draped across my body –
the potency of your soap
spreading across my skin.

Sleep is pounding in my skull,
but mutual lust is dripping –
a slow leak
down to my leopard print high heels.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

Your mouth is pressed against my breast
and I gasp,
head thrown to the side of the bed
and our tiny room is tossed into a prism’s light,

the luminary lighting his small face in the crib
making dark eyes beam hazel
and so I slide out from beneath you.
He is crying and I take him from his bed.

I wrap him in my arms and
sidle down into the bed with him.
He is groping at my breast,
and it is 1 am

and he is draped across my body –
the smell of lavender in his hair
it’s a complete 180
and I’m spinning from woman

to mother
from desire, to nurture
from you to him.
It is 1 a.m.

and I am the light
cut from the prism’s heart.
I am one and all,
wife and mother

in leopard high heels…

© Laura A. Lord 2015


There is something odd, and yet beautiful in being a mother. It seems we always have so many different coats to wear: wife, mother, daughter, friend…Sometimes those coats seem to overlap, we slide from one thing to the other with little thought.

This was written for MindLoveMisery’s prompt.

The 5 Stages of Co-Sleeping

I never tried co-sleeping with my older children. I was very scheduled, and so were they. I was terrified to let them in the bed with me. I don’t know what started it with my youngest, except I was clinging to every aspect of his infant stages knowing he was going to be my last. I’m not proclaiming that one way is right or better. All I know is that I’m on step four and I’m too exhausted to ponder the greater values of sleep systems for babies.

Excuse me while I drown my woes in coffee. . .

1. The first few weeks – Your boob is like. . .right there.

You’re nursing and he’s happily latching on every two hours on the dot. You, however, wake up every fifteen minutes to watch his chest and make sure he’s breathing, that there is nothing near his face, that he’s not too close to your pillow, that your husband hasn’t rolled over on top of him…You get zero sleep.

2. The next two months – Utter exhaustion.

Creative Commons: Lawrence Sinclair
Creative Commons: Lawrence Sinclair

You find that you’ve passed out for three hours at a time, only waking when he does to eat. Initial panic sets in and you feel around the bed to make sure he hasn’t magically disappeared. You check to make sure he’s breathing…while he’s screaming for a bottle. As you’re feeding him you think, Why the hell am I doing this? Then he falls asleep in your arms, and the crib seems so far away, and so you lay down for just a minute…

 3. Months three to six – Sharing sweat.

You wake every four hours with one side of your body drenched in sweat. He’s drenched in sweat. You change clothes, feed him, and lay down with your personal mini heater…which just plain sucks in June, July, and August.

4. Months six to twelve – Good luck, you brave, brave woman.

He can roll. He can crawl. He can use you as his personal jungle gym. You’ll find his preferred sleep position is draped across your body like the heaviest, sweatiest, drool-covered blanket ever. He will wake up long enough to burp in your face, kick you in the crotch, and then pass back out in a pile of the drool that’s collecting in your cleavage (or what’s left of your cleavage, because c’mon, darling, you nursed…we all know better). You look at the crib and realize somewhere over the last year it has transformed from that adorably decorated thing you posted all over Facebook to the world’s most expensive clothes hamper.

5. One year and up – Good God.

I’m sorry.

When Are You Evicting that Baby?

1509069_893607897324302_6571898719524823997_nI have no idea! But maybe you do?

It’s time for a new contest and at 30 weeks, what’s more fun than a round of Guess the Due Date!

So here’s all the stuff I’m sure you are going to ask about my pregnancy:

– The doc’s predict he will be here January 22nd.

– This is my third full term pregnancy.

– I have a history of going into labor a couple of weeks early.

Got your guess ready? Good, because the winners will get a free e-Book copy of the book, Loving in Shadow, by Ashlyn Kingsley (my pen name). One person will win the chance to receive a copy of my children’s book, The T-Rex That Ruined My Day.

How can you win?

The 5 closest guesses will win copies of Loving in Shadow.

The top (one) guess will receive the book, The T-Rex That Ruined My Day.

To leave your guess – just leave a comment with the date you choose! 

Ready?

Set?

Guess!

The Stranger That Took Me

stranger“You dreamed about it again?” He asked.

I nodded. “I dream about it all the time now. I remember that woman from the beach. I can see myself sitting there…watching it all happen…”

The beach was hot and hazy, the sand liquid fire on my feet. I spread my towel out and jumped onto it, thankful for the barrier between my skin and the burning sand. I hadn’t been there but a moment, when little feet ran by my towel kicking sand up onto my legs as two kids drug their mother out toward the water. I brushed the sand off me and watched them, caution making them slow down at the wet sand’s edge. They held tight to their mother’s hands as she guided them towards the water.

The waves were big and frothing white. They fell and swept in like the rows of white teeth in a shark’s jaw. Salty water sprayed up over the children cold enough to make them gasp and squeal. They bent and slapped at the water as it receded and then braced themselves against their mother as the wave came back. Slowly their feet sunk into the sand like the beach itself was eating them.  

It could have been hours of this, or five minutes. I don’t know. Everything happened so quickly. I heard a scream. The mother’s hand was empty. Beside her stood the small girl, but on the other side the boy was missing.

I watched her look, from her daughter to the ocean.

I watched the choice. A split second decision.

She let go of her daughter’s hand, and dove into the water.

People began to gather. The crowd grew so thick, that I was forced to stand to see. I watched others getting into the water. I watched them point and dive towards something I couldn’t see.

I watched a man in blue swim trunks and a grey shirt walk up to the little girl. I watched him bend down and talk to her.

He took her hand and walked away with her across the beach, towards the boardwalk.

I never saw the mother come out of the ocean. I never saw if they found the boy, if they pulled him in safe. I don’t know if they laid his body on the beach and pumped the water from his lungs.

I don’t know what happened after that man walked me off the beach, and put me in his car, and drove away.

“I think it’s time we call the police to investigate this,” he said.

I looked over at my doctor – the man who had been working with me the last two years while pieces of this dream surfaced. My father was in the waiting room.

The father who had raised me for 13 years.

The father who had once walked with me across the beach in blue swim trunks and a grey shirt.

The stranger who took me.

*****
prompted-buttonWord Count: 491

The prompt this week for Tipsy Lit was an impossible choice. One of the things I experience most during pregnancy is an unusual amount of nightmares. The terrible part is that most of these revolve around my children. Sandy, my brilliant friend from Mother of Imperfection, told me this morning that it probably had something to do with all the hormones raging and my protective instincts soaring. Last year around this time we took our children to the beach for the first time ever. I wrote about it briefly here. This Sunday we are taking them again, which probably is what spurred the horrible dream that brought this bit of fiction out. I suppose this not sleeping well thing does do wonders for my creativity. Silver linings…

Copyright Laura A. Lord ©2014

Moms: Stop Judging & Start Supporting

mommyI suspect we have all felt discriminated against at one point in our lives. Someone judged you for whatever reason because something made them feel superior.

I have been judged too many times to count, but never as much or as often as when I became a mother.

From the moment I became unexpectedly pregnant at 35, the criticism began and it has never stopped.

I am a mom at “Advanced Maternal Age”, an actual diagnosis now that goes on your medical paperwork.

I am a mom who was already overweight prior to becoming pregnant after suffering through a period of depression.

I am a mom who chose to return to work after maternity leave.

I am a mom who chose not to circumcise her son.

I am a mom who chose to vaccinate her son.

Perhaps the biggest issue of them all, I am a mom who chose to bottle feed.

I have my reasons for all of these choices, none being made lightly, and all having led to conversations and arguments that we now refer to as “The Mommy Wars”. And the fact that this is even a phrase, hurts my soul. Why oh why must everything be a competition amongst women? Why must we judge one another? What purpose does it serve?

For instance, here is a screen shot from an actual “friend” of mine on Facebook. She didn’t know my age prior to this and assumed I was younger although she never acknowledged my response. This is only a snippet of the ignorance and judgement I saw that day:

unnamed (2)

I thought long and hard about my response before I commented. As much as I wanted to post an emotional response, rationally I knew that wouldn’t change things. The only way we can try and stop these mommy wars, is to educate and support each other; to stop the emotional reactions; to stop breeding judgment and spreading hate. We need to be objective and rational so we can have these important discussions. We need to realize that because you went with choice a and I with choice b, neither makes one of us a better mother than the other.

This is not a competition.

So, this was my response:

unnamed (1)

I could’ve done better, but it’s a start and it’s how I always respond to these kinds of things. I remind them that it’s just another line drawn in the proverbial sand separating one mother from another, telling one she is better and criticizing the other.

And yet, why does no one see the irony in all of this?

We ALL have one HUGE thing in common: we love our children. We want the best for them and our natural instincts are to protect our children. It’s a natural emotional response to become defensive if you hear choice a is better than choice b, especially if you opted for choice b. Immediately the thoughts race through your mind about how you could’ve hurt your child or not given them the best option or not provided the best opportunity or even stolen from them in some way.

I know because I have thought those thoughts and felt those feelings.

But, they aren’t rational. It’s emotion and it’s misleading us, steering us away from the potential we have to come together as a united force to be reckoned with.

We should be having these discussions about breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding, circumcision, vaccinations and so on.

We should want to learn the pros and cons of all the options available to our children.

But….

We should respect everyone’s right to make the best choice for their child and for themselves.

We should love ourselves and each other more and without judgment.

We should understand that no two situations are the same. We are all unique individuals and that includes our children. What works for you may not work for someone else.

We should consider that everyone has walked a different path and until you have walked in their shoes, you can’t fully understand their journey.

We should fight together for better research and education.

And most all….

We should support each other, hold each other’s hand and help one another through this adventure of motherhood. While it’s beautiful, it’s still not an easy road. Why make it harder?

*****

unnamedDeanna Herrmann is a freelance writer blogging her way through motherhood and unemployment. She is also Managing Editor of the online literary community, Tipsy Lit. Join her on Facebook or Twitter for some free therapy sessions and help her justify those degrees she’s still paying for and not using.

 

A Tale of Two Tracies

In elementary school, the principal is merely a figurehead.

The school is really run by a tightly knit group of women – a gung-ho group of stay-at-home Power Moms.

They establish themselves in the very first year – The Kindergarten Mom Mafia.

 

bulliesThe KMM (Kindergarten Mom Mafia) hated me.

I’m used to not fitting in.

But when you have a kid – and the other moms ostracize you – your child suffers.

And it’s BRUTAL.

 

Kindergarten is an enormous milestone.

People were actually going to take my kid for a whole day, and I didn’t have to pay anybody?

There must be a catch.

There was.

 

The school encourages the kindergarten moms to volunteer.

I use the word “encourage” lightly.

Every day there were 10 more emails asking for help with the buses, at lunch, in the art room, with the pretzel sale, at the book fair, in the school store…

Volunteering for kindergarten is a full time job. And I already had a job.

But my schedule was flexible, and my kid really wanted me there.

Plus, I was hoping to meet other mothers.

About half of the moms in the class signed up to run all the activities for the kindergarten year.

Of this group, I was the only one who worked outside the home.

 

 

I know I’m a little different from the average suburban kindergarten mom.

I dress differently.

I didn’t show up looking like some Goth Punk Princess.

Maybe I was in destroyed skinny jeans, a Pink Floyd tee-shirt, some black booties.

I’m sorry. I don’t own frocks and cardigans.

Maybe I had a little ink here or there. A tat on my foot. It’s not like I had “fuck the police” emblazoned across my neck.

Maybe I’ve led a pretty different life than most of the women in suburbia, but what of it?

I don’t smoke crack and run a phone sex business out of my kitchen.

My house is always immaculate, I’ve got good grammar, and I bake a mean cupcake. I figured I was qualified for admission to any kindergarten clique.

 

I joined the volunteer squad, even though hanging out in the lunchroom with 50 raucous kindergarteners hopped up on fruit punch and Ring Dings was about as fun as having a root canal – without the Percocet party.

And I dialed down my personality a bit.

Shut up.

did.

 

It didn’t work.

I don’t know why. I’m adorable.

And it’s not like I did anything off-putting, like referring to my son as “that douche bag.”

At least, not right at the beginning.

 

But I was emphatically denied admission to the KMM.

And just like that, my adolescent insecurities reawakened like a dormant virus.

 

In the “hierarchy of the clique,” the core members are the leaders.

The two leaders of the KMM had zero interest in me.

They were both named Tracy. Convenient, right?

I’ll just refer to both of them as “Tracy.”

The same way when I was growing up, the neighborhood referred to my entire family as “The Jew.”

 

Tracy wasn’t openly hostile to me. It was more passive aggressive.

First, she ignored my Facebook friend request, but it was early in the year so I assumed it was just an oversight.

But then I noticed she avoided any eye contact with me.

Or conversation.

This is no small feat when you’re working at a school event.

It takes talent to ignore someone sitting across from you at a kindergarten table the size of a shoebox.

 

At birthday parties she made sure I was excluded from the momversations.

She would actually turn and position her body while speaking to someone so that I was physically barricaded from the conversation.

But I caught snatches of their latest lunch escapade, or their Friday night Applebee’s adventure. I was like a kid standing outside a bakery, with my face pressed up against the glass.

Able to see, but not partake.

 

It was ironic. When I lived in Manhattan, the only feelings I had towards the Bridge and Tunnel crowd were annoyance and disdain.

If my friends and I went to a club, and there were too many badly-dressed Jersey-ites, we left.

And now I was hyperventilating because a gaggle of New Jersey housewives were going out to lunch without inviting me.

 

Because it wasn’t just about me.

All the play dates hinged around the moms who bonded.

And my own unrelenting outsider status had a trickle down effect on my son’s social situation.

If you’re a part of the “in” crowd, you get asked for play dates.

If not, you can chase a piece of string around in your backyard, alone, until you rot.

 

In this respect, I completely failed my son.

 

He was left out of everything.

 

In school, Tracy was EVERYWHERE.

Even events that she wasn’t scheduled to help at, she showed up for.

She suffered from what I refer to as CVS: “chronic volunteer syndrome.”

It’s a disease that afflicts some women who, because they don’t work or have interests outside the home, measure their lives and sense of self worth in their children and what goes on at their children’s school

 

I work with the kids of those vicariously living moms, fast forwarded to high school.

Those kids who were given absolutely no breathing room.

And those are the kids who grow up and escape their parents faster than you can say “out of state college.”

 

I tried even harder to be nice to Tracy at school events.

I never called her a bloated, culturally barren, intellectually-stunted suburban fucktwit, but maybe my innermost feelings were not as well-hidden as I thought.

Or maybe it’s like I’ve always suspected – people in a tribe can sniff one another out.

Even though I spoke and acted like THEM, I clearly was not one of THEM.

 

Of course, my friends tried to make me feel better about the clique.

“You wouldn’t even want to be friends with them anyway” was the constant refrain.

Yes, outside the kindergarten arena I would have no reason to befriend Tracy.

But I didn’t want my son excluded, punished really, because Tracy had decided not to like me.

 

My gym friends warned me, “They’re never gonna like you – you’re too skinny.”

Well, it’s not my fault Tracy hadn’t lost the baby weight – and her baby was six.

Maybe if she wasn’t living vicariously through her kindergartener by organizing the lunchroom schedule, she wouldn’t be stuffing all her unfulfilled desires with Dunkin’ Donuts.

 

“It’s because you’re Jewish,” my Italian girlfriend warned me.

Okay – next Halloween I’ll dress my son up like Hitler.

Will that help him fit in better?

 

“It’s because you’re a single,” my male friend told me. “They think you’re after their husbands – or their husbands are after you.”

Really? I didn’t want my husband. I certainly don’t want yours.

 

After speaking about this for several years, it appears that many people believe it has a lot to do with the invisible line drawn between working and non-working moms.

If so, this pointless and nonsensical line needs to be erased.

 

After kindergarten, you’re not asked to come in on a daily basis.

Thank God. 

And now, I volunteer for many events, but I’ve developed a thicker skin.

I don’t know if I have outgrown the politics of cliques or I simply do not care anymore.

 

 

Little Dude had a really rough go making friends the first couple of years.

All because of the Kindergarten Mom Mafia.

But – because he’s awesome, and because kids eventually outgrow the friends their mothers designate for them in kindergarten, he has a full social life.

That social life is HARD WON. 

He knows it. We’ve discussed it.

And I have never stopped feeling guilty for that.

 

What’s most irksome about Mommy cliques is that they’re harmful to the very children those passionately involved parents are trying to help.

 

This type of exclusivity sends our children all the wrong messages.

It fails to teach them important social and emotional skills.

Bullying has become one of the most prevalent and widely discussed topics pertaining to school age children today.

 

Maybe the focus should be off the KIDS – and on the PARENTS.

Who do you think is teaching them to be bullies?

 

 

Do you ever feel left out or ignored by other school parents?  Has your kid been affected by this?
Should the schools be addressing the Mom cliques, and the trickle-down effect it has on our children?
Talk to me.   I’m listening.

*****

unnamedSamara is a die hard New Yorker. Every day she wakes up in suburban New Jersey, her soul dies a little more. She blogs at A Buick In the Land Of Lexus. Samara can occasionally can be found on Facebook, and Twitter. But only when she’s supposed to be working.

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1000 Words

fort-point-arches

I have fears. Very real fears. They are mine and I keep them, because I don’t like to share. When the temperatures soar and I’m lying in bed sweating, I suffer in silence. The other option is to open my window, but that terrifies me. I cannot fall asleep with the window open. I will spend my evening staring out of it, wondering what is looking back in.

I’d rather sweat.

I’d rather walk all the way out the front door and around to the side door to avoid a spider hanging in my hallway.

I drive past houses that have burned down and refuse to look at them. I get up and check the heaters every night, multiple times. I check the stove. I sniff the air. I dread that I’ll smell smoke.

I am terrified of house fires.

I stare at the lines on the road whenever we cross a big bridge. I hate the way the water looks, lapping at the supports. It looks hungry. It looks like something that wants to rise and rise and swallow me whole.

I am convinced the ocean is an evil thing.

I have fears. Very real fears.

I thought I was keeping them to myself, but then I realized my daughter screamed when she saw a spider. She didn’t when she was younger, so why now? Why is she afraid of it now?

Because I am.

She is following in my example, and my very real fears, have become hers. I realized she got panicked when we drove across the bridge, or that she checks the heater in her own room every night before bed. She never asks to open her window.

She has my fear.

And she has no damn reason to have it.

So I got angry. I got angry with me and with this world that breeds things to scare us. I got angry about spiders and open windows and house fires and oceans. I got angry with the weakness that fear brings along and that I thought I was being selfish, but I’d been passing them along.

Like I’d passed along the scattering of freckles that crossed her cheeks. Like I passed along the cowlick in her bangs.

I’d helped to form a child afraid.

And I was so damn angry.

I wanted to sweep in and erase them all. I wanted to tell her there was nothing to fear, that she was okay, that the world wasn’t such a frightening place. I wanted to put on a brave face and show her how strong I was, so she would know she could be strong too.

I want her to be strong.

There are so many things in life that are worse than spiders. The world is a much more frightening place than behind an open window. I needed her to know that she didn’t have to be afraid.

We went to the beach. My children were seven and five and it was the first time at the beach. I had avoided it like the plague. I had blamed the sun and their very pale skin. I had complained of the high temperatures and how easily children get sunstroke. I had fussed over the cost and the sheer amount of crap we’d have to haul down there to make the day survivable.

We went to the beach.

It was crowded and so we skirted groups of families and sunbathing women. We passed men playing Frisbee and a few lumps of what might have once been sandcastles.

We approached the ocean and the sand was moist under my toes and my heart dropped straight into my stomach. It filled so much space and everything else shoved up into my throat and I stood there choking while I watched the ocean’s angry fingers come crashing down.

There was laughter and yelling and there I was standing, frozen while my son pulled on my hand in anxious excitement. He wanted to get into that water and all I could picture was the wave coming. Gripping him tight. Pulling him from my hands. Him sliding away.

I can’t swim.

I’d never get to him.

When my daughter stood there by my side, unflinching, unmoving, it hit me.

She was seven. She should be pulling my hand just as hard as her brother. She should be excited. But she wasn’t, and it was my fault.

I let my son go with my husband. I couldn’t do it with two of them. I’m only a woman. I’m only so strong. So brave. There’s a limit to how far I can go with things, and tackling this alone would have been bad enough.

Tackling this with my entire team of supportive friends and loved ones would have been just as frightening.

Trying to do it with my seven year old daughter was hell.

She had her little hand wrapped in mine, and I explained how it would feel. We stepped forward bit by bit and the water began to lap at our feet. I made myself keep walking. I made myself move.

When the sands moved under our feet and she felt the pull, she yelled. I looked down and saw her laughter, her smile. She bent, digging her hands into the sand to feel it slip between her fingers.

Within moments she was pulling me in further and further. She fell to her knees and let the water wash across her chest and arms. She slid on her knees as the tide pushed her in towards the sand.

She lost her fear, and with her, I found some bravery.

Motherhood is a scary, scary thing. It’s full of adventures I’d never take on my own. I looked at this image and thought, I’d never go down there. It’s dark and I can’t see in the dark. It’s scary.

But you know what, if my daughter was down there, or my son, hiding in the shadows, I’d go.

I would touch the ocean.

********

Word Count: 1,000

Out of all the pictures this week, this one gave me the most emotional reaction the fastest.

And yes…I’m still afraid of spiders.

Herstory Lesson: Being a mother means you get to face your fears head on, whether you want to or not.